As a new hotel, resort, motel, or vacation rental, your primary goal is to make sure that word about your property gets out. From the beginning, bookings, regardless of where they come from, are a good thing. Even after your property has been around a while, all bookings are good. But as you’ll quickly find out, some bookings are certainly much more valuable than others.
Bookings made through OTAs, or other travel agencies, don’t hold the same value as direct bookings made through your property’s website. The biggest reason for this is that you’ll lose a portion of your booking cost to the fees charged by OTAs. Many OTAs, like Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor, charge a fee that is between 15 and 20 percent of your booking.
But there are other hidden costs that come with OTA bookings. The team at Vibrant Management knows that balancing a relationship with OTAs while also working to boost direct bookings is a must. Keep reading as we explore some of the hidden costs of OTA bookings, and how we can help you fight back against these costs.
They May Not Align With Your Own Cancellation Policies
Having a flexible cancellation policy can be a great tactic for increasing bookings at your property. However, a cancellation policy that is too flexible might not be a good fit for all properties and situations. When guests cancel a booking at the last minute in the middle of your busiest season, you risk losing valuable income that you would have almost certainly been able to make had you had more advanced warning of the cancellation.
Unfortunately, one way that many OTAs compete with one another—and with resorts and hotels hoping to land direct bookings—is by offering a flexible cancellation policy. Many OTAs offer free cancellation, sometimes as little as 24 hours before check-in.
While great for guests, these policies have a tendency to increase cancellations and may be abused by guests. They can book a trip, then change their mind at the last minute, or even cancel to book somewhere else if a better deal comes along. You not only lose out on the income from that booking but also the chance to fill that empty room or rental with another booking because of the late notice.
You Might Have Limited Information From Your Guests
Turning a first-time visitor into a treasured return guest means enhancing every part of their stay. When a guest books directly, you can start this experience before they ever arrive at your property. You have access to their information, which means that you can send a welcome email outlining the amenities they can enjoy during their stay or give them information about the check-in process.
But when a guest books through an OTA, you often have limited access to their personal information. If your property has a contactless check-in process, this might mean having almost no contact with your guest between check-in and check-out, making it tough to build any kind of relationship that could lead to another visit in the future.
OTAs Won’t Market Your Property in the Same Way That You Do
Many of the properties that the team at Vibrant Management works with have a variety of lodging options to choose from. Take Flanigan’s Resort, for instance. This beautiful luxury hotel located in Springdale, Utah offers a variety of room types, including standard rooms and multiple suites. Each of the suites is unique, with its own special features. When you go to Flanigan’s Resort’s website, you can check out the features of each of these suites, and see some pictures.
But when an OTA lists your property’s room types, they likely won’t describe them in the same way. In fact, they may simply label your room with a title, and include one or two pictures.
Suddenly, your incredible, unique suite is being marketed alongside standard chain hotel rooms, simply because they sleep the same number of guests. Your suite may be priced higher, because of the many additional amenities and features it has to offer. But all guests will see when looking at the OTA listing is the higher price tag.
OTAs won’t market your property in the same way that you do. This means that guests may not understand what they are getting when they book a stay. This can lead to more dissatisfied guests when they arrive and find a room they weren’t expecting.
Finding a Balance With Direct and OTA Bookings
Finding a balance between encouraging direct bookings and accepting OTA bookings can be a challenge. But with the right hospitality management team on your side, it is possible.
The team at Vibrant Management knows a thing or two about OTAs. We’ve helped dozens of properties in Southern Utah and beyond improve their direct bookings while also finding value in a healthy percentage of OTA bookings. We’ll work with you to improve your website or start fresh with a beautiful new site that will help your property shine. Through marketing, social media, and SEO strategies, we’ll help drive visits to your website, which in turn will help increase your direct bookings. We’ll also teach you the strategies that can help encourage guests to book through you instead of their favorite travel sites.
Interested in learning more about how our team can help your property fight back against OTA bookings? Schedule your free consultation today!